The why is a tough question. Why is Tiger struggling? Is he still battling back from the knee surgeries? Could it be that living a better lifestyle is making it harder to focus on golf, or perhaps it’s just emotionally exhausting? Perhaps he just doesn’t have the time to commit to practice like he once did. Maybe having affairs with multiple women boosted his confidence to such a high level it helped on the golf course – and now that’s gone. Of course he could just be getting older and everyone else is catching up. Why is a tough one to answer. What the problem is however is not.
Yes, a swing change is a long process – especially at the absolute highest level. But that’s not the problem. Tiger has always hit it a long and that was an advantage, but he still hits it long. No, he’s not consistently hitting like Gary Woodland but Tiger’s length is not the problem. And he’s never driven the ball particularly straight – he’s just one of the most skilled and imaginative players when it comes to getting out of trouble. Sure, there were tournaments when he hit fairways with great consistency and didn’t have to spend all his time scrambling – but that just meant he won by 15 strokes instead of 5. The swing isn’t his problem.
Tiger’s problem right now is simple. He can’t putt. Until a few years ago when everything changed for Tiger he simply never missed putts. Okay, the word never is maybe not technically accurate but it’s darn close. He didn’t miss putts. He saved par almost every time and if he needed a putt, he made it – almost no matter where it was from. It was an amazing stretch of amazing putting. Now, for whatever reasons – remember the why is hard to figure – he putts like a human. He misses putts. A lot of them. In the first 3 days of the 2011 Masters he’s missed more putts that 5 years ago he’d make. When (and sadly, maybe it’s more accurate to say if) Tiger gets his putting stroke back we’ll again see Tiger winning, and winning a lot.
UPDATE (after Tiger’s 4th round at the 2011 Masters): I rest my case.
Tiger 5 years ago would have NOT missed the par putt at 12 and would never have missed the Eagle putt at 15. Could have been, should have been in the clubhouse at at least -12.